1 Nephi Chapter 22
1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read? Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?
verse 1 Apparently Nephi is asked whether the prophecies he has just read from the plates of brass pertaining to the scattering and gathering of Israel (Isaiah chapters 48 and 49) are to be taken literally ("according . . . to the flesh") or figuratively ("according to the spirit"). That is, will Israel actually be scattered and gathered physically (literally) or just spiritually (figuratively)?
2 And I, Nephi, said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.
verse 2 "The prophet," of course, is Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Holy Ghost, of course, is involved in a prophet's receiving revelation. Even so, the events of which the prophet foretells often may occur literally-"according to the flesh."
3 Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations.
verse 3 "both temporal and spiritual" As mentioned in the commentary for verse 1, Nephi was asked whether the prophecies of Isaiah should be regarded as literal or figurative. Nephi answers that both meanings should be taken. Israel will be scattered physically or literally and later gathered literally (return to their lands of promise). They will also be gathered spiritually (returned to the gospel of Jesus Christ).
As an aside, it should be mentioned that there is no question more fundamental to scriptural interpretation than whether a given passage is intended to be interpreted literally or figuratively. Prophets write some passages which they intend to be understood literally, and others they intend to have symbolic meanings. Mistakes may be made in both directions. There are often no easy answers to this dilemma.
If you would like to review the concepts of scattering and gathering of Israel, see the introductory comments for 1 Nephi 20 (see also verses 7-14 below).
4 And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away.
verse 4 "many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem" Who are those of the house of Israel "who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem" at the time of Nephi? They are the ten tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel who were captured by Assyria's forces in the series of conquests between 732 and 722 BC. In other words, they are scattered Israel. See the supplemental article, Jerusalem at the time of Lehi.
"Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away" It has often been maintained that the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed and deported by the Assyrians but that the southern kingdom of Judah remained essentially unaffected. In the case of Judah, however, nothing could be further from the truth. In 701 BC, some ninety percent of the kingdom of Judah-consisting not only of people whose tribal heritage was Judah, but of many refugees and other citizens of Judah whose tribal heritage was of Ephraim or Manasseh, Dan or Asher, Zebulon or Naphtali-was also taken away, and became part of "lost Israel." In this regard, it is perhaps more accurate to speak not of the ten lost tribes, but of the twelve lost tribes (or at least the 11.9 lost tribes) since the majority of all twelve tribes, including Judah, was carried away captive by the Assyrians. See the discussion of Assyria's attack on the land of Judah in 701 BC, also contained in the supplemental article, Jerusalem at the Time of Lehi.
"isles of the sea" The term "isles of the sea," as mentioned previously, refers simply to scattered Israel, wherever they may be found upon the earth. It does not necessarily mean they occupy an island.
"they are scattered to and fro" The phrase "to and fro" means literally to and from. Israel is scattered everywhere-to and from, hither and thither.
In what ways are the "lost ten tribes" or others of scattered Israel lost? They are: (1) lost to the lands of their inheritance; (2) lost to the gospel, the priesthood, and its saving ordinances; and (3) they have lost their identity. They no longer know that they are of the house of Israel and that they are a chosen and covenant people.
5 And since they have been led away, these things have been prophesied concerning them, and also concerning all those who shall hereafter be scattered and be confounded, because of the Holy One of Israel; for against him will they harden their hearts; wherefore, they shall be scattered among all nations and shall be hated of all men.
verse 5 "since they have been led away [from the truth]" As mentioned previously, scattering occurs because of apostasy. Those who apostatize and are scattered will tend to become isolated, lonely, and despised of men.
6 Nevertheless, after they shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.
verse 6 See the commentary for 1 Nephi 21:22-23.
"behold these things of which are spoken are temporal" Again, this phrase implies that the prophecies of the Lord's prophets and the covenants which the Lord has made with man will find their fulfillment physically or literally.
"it meaneth us" Lehi's descendants, probably numbered among the Indian populations of North, Central, and South America, will be included in the gathering as will all others of the house of Israel ("also all our brethren").
7 And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.
verse 7 "a mighty nation among the Gentiles" See the commentaries for 1 Nephi 10:14 and 1 Nephi 15:13 for a discussion of the "mighty nation among the Gentiles." In the Church, we have come to refer to this nation as "the great Gentile nation," though this phrase is not found in scripture. This nation would seem to be the United States of America. Before missionaries from this great Gentile nation begin to gather Israel, including the Lamanites, the citizens of this Gentile nation will first have a role in scattering them. Presumably this refers to the oppression and disruption of the native American Indian tribes (by American and Spanish settlers). Some of those scattered (likely only a few) might include Lehi's descendants.
8 And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.
verse 8 The "marvelous work" is the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
"wherefore, it is likened . . . upon their shoulders" This phrase explains the meaning of 1 Nephi 21:22-23 and 1 Nephi 22:6.
"It" refers to the gathering of Israel. The first "their" refers to gathering Israelites. The second "their" and third "their" refer to the Gentile missionaries. Since the gospel will be restored and the Book of Mormon will come forth to the great Gentile nation, the "Gentile" missionaries will carry the gospel to the house of Israel. Remember that even though these missionaries are called "Gentiles" by virtue of their residence in the great Gentile nation, most of them are actually descendants of the tribe of Joseph through Ephraim (see the commentary for 1 Nephi 21:1-6).
9 And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
verse 9 "It" is the gathering of Israel and the restoration of gospel blessings which include the covenants made with father Abraham. Part of the "marvelous work" of restoration to occur in the latter days, under the direction of the prophet Joseph Smith, is the making known to the Israelite peoples the covenants of the Father unto Abraham. The covenants which the Lord made with Abraham are reviewed in the commentary for 1 Nephi 14:8.
This verse makes special reference to one specific covenant: "In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." What is the meaning of this particular covenant? In what way will all of the families or kindreds of the earth be blessed through the seed of Abraham or the house of Israel? Abraham's posterity will prove to be a blessing to all families of the earth, in that Israel will bear the priesthood and preach the gospel to them. Thus, will every family have the opportunity, through the posterity of Abraham, to enjoy the blessings of the gospel, which include the "blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" (Abraham 2:9-11).
This verse implies that this particular covenant which the Lord made with Abraham will be "of worth" both to the house of Israel and to the Gentiles. In other words it will apply to, or benefit, or be of value to both Abraham's posterity and to the Gentiles. This covenant has obvious application to those of the house of Israel. But how does it apply to Gentiles? Once an individual who descends from ancestors outside the house of Israel accepts the gospel, he is adopted into the house of Israel. He becomes, in a literal sense, one of the posterity of Abraham. All of the covenants made with Abraham apply to him just as if he were a blood descendant of Abraham. Hence, the "Gentiles" who are the missionary citizens of the great Gentile nation, those of the house of Israel who accept the gospel, and the "Gentiles"-those not of Israelite blood-who accept the gospel will all be blessed by this particular covenant.
10 And I would, my brethren, that ye should know that all the kindreds of the earth cannot be blessed unless he shall make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations.
verse 10 "make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations" When we say that the Lord "makes bare his arm" we mean that the Lord shows his power. Those missionaries who take the gospel to all peoples and nations of the earth will go with God's power (see D&C 35:13-14).
11 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.
12 Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.
verse 12 "they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance" Keep in mind the fact that the land of inheritance for the lost ten tribes of Israel is the western hemisphere (with its theoretical center in Jackson County, Missouri), and the land of inheritance for those of Jewish descent is Jerusalem and the land of Israel.
The phrase "out of obscurity and out of darkness" originated with Isaiah (Isaiah 29:18) and refers to scattered Israel.
13 And the blood of that great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; for they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood.
14 And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.
verses 13-14 "great and abominable church" See the commentary for 1 Nephi 21:26. See also the introductory commentary for 1 Nephi 13.
This verse describes the internal strife and fratricide that will occur in the latter days among those in the great and abominable church. Since the verse has a latter-day orientation, the great and abominable church referred to here is the less specific entity described in 1 Nephi 14 (see 1 Nephi 14:10) and not the specific church referred to in 1 Nephi 13. This generic or less specific entity consists of all those organizations (in this instance, nations) who fight against the kingdom of God. Here we learn that they will be caught in their own traps. The fall of this great and abominable entity will only occur just prior to the Millennium.
15 For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.
verse 15 The "prophet" spoken of here may well be Isaiah (see Isaiah 47:14) or even Zenos.
"Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men" Satan is bound during the Millennium.
This verse has been a source of trouble and criticism for the Church. It has served as fodder for anti-Mormons. The reason is that its phraseology is very similar to a prophecy of Malachi. Compare the wording of this verse with Malachi 4:1. Malachi is the only biblical scripture that has wording similar to 1 Nephi 22:15. Why should this be a source of trouble? Couldn't Nephi have simply taken this wording from the brass plates? No, he couldn't have. Why? Simply because the prophet Malachi prophesied in about 450 BC, well after Lehi's family left Jerusalem! There were no writings of Malachi on the brass plates that Lehi's family took with them. The anti-Mormons have said, "Aha! We've got you this time!" Joseph Smith must have had before him the Book of Malachi when he wrote 1 Nephi 22:15. Nephi could not have had access to Malachi's writings! This is not the only verse that has caused this trouble. Anti-Mormons have also compared 1 Nephi 22:23-24 and 2 Nephi 26:4; 2 Nephi 26:8-9 with Malachi 4:1-2 and have found unmistakable similarities. What is the explanation? How do we get out of this one?
Before we try to resolve this issue, let's raise yet another similar criticism of the Book of Mormon. Almost since the publication of the Book of Mormon it has been noticed that there is a similarity between 2 Nephi 1:14 and a passage written by William Shakespeare in his play Hamlet. 2 Nephi 1:14 reads: "in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return." The passage in Hamlet is: "But that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns." Yet another passage in Mosiah 3:25 is similar: "a state of misery and endless torment from whence they can no more return." Shakespeare wrote in the late 1500s and early 1600s AD.
Well then, did Joseph Smith quote from Shakespeare as he wrote the Book of Mormon? For the discussion of the issue of 2 Nephi 1:14, I am indebted to Robert F. Smith. In his article "Shakespeare and the Book of Mormon," (a FARMS reprint) he has provided us the following explanation.
It would seem that there are two possible explanations for the similarities between these passages in the Book of Mormon and those in Malachi and Hamlet. The first is that Joseph Smith's mind might have been laced with the literature of his day. He certainly had read Malachi, and I suppose he might have been familiar with Hamlet. There are also passages in the King James Version of the Book of Job which are vaguely similar to 2 Nephi 1:14 (see Job 7:9- 10, 21; 16:22). There is other literature which was theoretically available to Joseph in 1828. For example, the phrase ". . . from whence no traveler returns" has been found in a book by Josiah Priest, published in Albany, New York, in 1825. Perhaps as he translated, he used words and phrases which were in his mind, and perhaps one result was the phraseology in 2 Nephi 1:14.
A better explanation is that Malachi, Nephi, and Shakespeare all had an abundant common source of literature available to them from which they might have taken their ideas and even their phraseology. For example, Brother Smith in his article gives a few examples of specific "ideas and expressions . . . [which] . . . were available from Mesopotamia to Egypt in Lehi's own time-especially in Egypt." A few of these specific examples follow (reproduced here without references which might be obtained from Brother Smith's article): "May you not go on the roads of the western ones [the dead]; they who go on them [travelers] do not return." "There is nobody who returns from there." "Behold, there is nobody who has gone, who has returned." "None that have gone have come back." "Why, pray, have you come to the 'Land of No Return,' on the road whose traveler returns never." "To the house from which he who enters never goes forth. To the road whose path does not lead back."
Referring to 2 Nephi 1:14, Hugh Nibley wrote:
This passage has inspired scathing descriptions of the Book of Mormon as a mass of stolen quotations. . . . A recent study of Sumerian and Akkadian names for the world of the dead lists prominently "the hole, the earth, the land of no return, the path of no turning back, the road whose course never turns back, the distant land, etc." . . . This is a good deal closer to Lehi's language than Shakespeare is. . . . Lehi . . . can hardly be denied the luxury of speaking as he was supposed to speak (Approach to the Book of Mormon, 276-77; see also Nibley, Since Cumorah, 162; and Nibley, Prophetic Book of Mormon, 90-91.)
Let us, then, turn our attention back to 1 Nephi 22:15. What common source might have influenced both Malachi and Nephi? Elder Bruce R. McConkie has proposed an interesting explanation. He has suggested that the prophet Zenos may have been a common source for both Nephi and Malachi:
Our understanding of the prophetic word will be greatly expanded if we know how one prophet quotes another, usually without acknowledging his source.
Either Isaiah or Micah copied the prophetic words of the other relative to the mountain of the Lord's house being established in the last days with all nations flowing thereto. Their ministries overlapped, but we assume that the lesser Micah copied from the greater Isaiah and then appended some words of his own about the Millennial Era.
Some unnamed Old Testament prophet, who obviously was Zenos, as the Book of Mormon testifies, spoke of the day when the wicked would be destroyed as stubble; when the righteous would be "led up as calves of the stall"; when Christ should "rise from the dead, with healing in his wings"; and when the Holy One of Israel would then reign on the earth [1 Nephi 22:24; 2 Nephi 25:13].
Malachi, who lived more than two hundred years after Nephi [sic], uses these very expressions in his prophetic writings. Can we do other than conclude that both Nephi and Malachi had before them the writings of Zenos? . . .
Once the Lord has revealed his doctrine in precise language to a chosen prophet, there is no reason why he should not inspire another prophet to choose the same words in presenting the same doctrine on a subsequent occasion. It is much easier and simpler to quote that which has already been given in perfection. We are all commanded-including the prophets among us-to search the scriptures and thereby learn what other prophets have presented ("The Doctrinal Restoration" in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, editors: Monte S. Nyman and Robert L Millet, 17-18.)
"they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned" Stubble is the stumps of wheat, rye, barley, oats, or buckwheat left in the ground; the part of the stalk left by the scythe or sickle. This cleansing of the earth, which will eliminate all telestial elements, will occur at the Savior's second coming-at the onset of the Millennium.
verses 16-18 These verses also describe those events that will occur prior to the Millennium. Just as the earth was baptized by water in the days of Noah, so it will yet be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost so that it may commence its terrestrial, Millennial period.
16 For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
17 Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
verse 17 "thus saith the prophet" Nephi is perhaps still quoting the prophet Zenos.
18 Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.
verse 18 "these things must shortly come" Since the things prophesied will not occur for nearly three millennia following the time of Nephi, the word "shortly" here is of interest. Perhaps "shortly" here is less a reference to the time of occurrence and more a reference to the fact that these things will occur acutely or quickly when they do occur. It may also carry the connotation that these things will surely come.
"fire and vapor of smoke" It has been suggested that these may result from a nuclear holocaust (Bruce R. McConkie, CR, April 1979, 133).
"if it so be" This phrase marks this as a conditional prophecy or one that need not occur lest mankind bring it upon themselves by their own wickedness.
"Holy One of Israel" is an interesting term which is used here for Deity. It is found thirty-four times in the Bible-all in the Old Testament. It is not used in the New Testament. Most instances of its use are in the book of Isaiah (twenty-nine times), and all instances are in the 150 years preceding Babylonian captivity. Thus we might expect that it would be found in the Book of Mormon, particularly because of the Book of Mormon's Old Testament orientation, and more particularly because the term was commonly used during and just prior to Lehi's day. Indeed, it is found some thirty-nine times in the Book of Mormon-all in materials translated from the small plates of Nephi. The term is not found once in the Doctrine and Covenants. Again, we encounter a piece of evidence that Joseph Smith, Jr., did not write the Book of Mormon. If he had authored it, we would expect to find the term "Holy One of Israel" also in the Doctrine and Covenants and also in Mosiah through Alma in the Book of Mormon.
19 For behold, the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.
20 And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
verse 20 "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you" This prophet is, of course, Jesus Christ. This remarkable verse is perhaps the most often quoted messianic prophecy in all scripture. It originated with Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Lehi quoted it to his children; (1 Nephi 10:4); Paul quoted it while preaching in the temple (Acts 3:22-23); Christ quoted it during his appearance to the Nephites (3 Nephi 21:11); Stephen quoted it before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 7:37); Moroni quoted it to Joseph Smith (JS-H 1:40); and it is found in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 1:14; D&C 1:133:63).
"like unto me" Moses, the great deliverer of the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, was one of the purest "types" of Christ among all of the world's prophets.
21 And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.
verse 21 "he shall execute judgment in righteousness" There are many scriptural references to Jesus Christ as the judge of all the earth (John 5:22; John 5:30; Psalm 50:6; Psalm 94:1-2; Acts 10:42; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:4; Genesis 18:25). There are also references that suggest Christ may delegate at least part of the responsibility of judging to others (Matthew 10:14-15; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; D&C 29:12; D&C 75:21:22; 1 Nephi 12:9-10; 3 Nephi 27:27; Mormon 3:19; Daniel 7:22).
At what specific point in our eternal lives do we stand before our Lord to be judged? Certainly, a judgment must occur prior to the resurrection since the body we receive at the moment of our resurrection indicates how we have been judged. We will come forth with a telestial body, a terrestrial body, or a celestial body. When is the judgment then? In his book Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith taught of a "partial judgment" that occurs at the time of our death (448). In this judgment, which is meted out by the "gatekeeper"-surely Jesus Christ himself-all will be assigned to either paradise or prison. This is a vital judgment since all assigned to paradise will continue on to their exaltation, and most, if not all, of those assigned to prison will eventually inherit a lesser degree of glory in the terrestrial or telestial kingdoms. Apparently those who have not received the gospel will be judged by the Lord according to how they would have responded had they received it (D&C 137:5-9). Surely other judgments will follow involving those in spirit prison prior to their resurrection. For additional discussion of the judgments, see Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 9, The Judgments.
The word "righteousness" used in this verse is richer than we might initially suppose. The fact that Jesus Christ is the "righteous" judge means that He is the perfect judge-the only one qualified to judge us. And this title He earned by virtue of his atoning suffering and death at Gethsemane and at Golgotha (see "The Perfect Judge" in The Essence of the Lord's Atonement in volume 1, chapter 19 of Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine).
22 And the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded. But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh-
23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
verses 22-23 The "kingdom of the devil" corresponds to the entity defined as the "great and abominable church" in 1 Nephi 14 (see the introductory discussion for 1 Nephi 13). It is a generic term much the same as Babylon or "whore of all the earth" (2 Nephi 10:16). Keep in mind the fact that the word "churches" here does not necessarily refer to religious organizations. Rather, it referred anciently to an assembly, congregation, or association of people who bonded together and shared the same loyalties.
"and this is according to the words of the prophet" Presumably Nephi is still quoting from the prophet Zenos.
verses 24-26 These verses refer to the Millennium.
24 And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory.
verse 24 "calves of the stall" The only biblical reference containing this phrase is Malachi 4:2. Both Nephi and Malachi were probably quoting the prophet Zenos (see the commentary for 1 Nephi 22:15).
The implication of the expression "led up as calves of the stall" suggests that the gathering back to the fold of Zion will, during the Millennium, occur more easily, frequently, willingly, and with less opposition as cows in the stall are herded.
25 And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.
verse 25 A major part of the gathering of the house of Israel will not take place until the Millennium.
26 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.
verse 26 "he hath no power over the hearts of the people" Apparently Satan's being bound during the Millennium is actually the result of two separate phenomena:
1. Satan will actually be restrained by the power of God. This will likely occur by means of the Lord's pouring out his Spirit upon the righteous who remain on the earth to the extent that Satan's power will be simply overwhelmed. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught concerning the binding of Satan: "There are many among us who teach that the binding of Satan will be merely the binding which those dwelling on the earth will place upon him by their refusal to hear his enticings. This is not so. He will not have the privilege during that period of time to tempt any man" (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:192).
2. The Lord will destroy telestial wickedness from off the earth, and thus there will not be people on the earth who will respond to his promptings. In this verse Nephi teaches here in this verse that "because of the righteousness of his [the Lord's] people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth."
President George Q. Cannon taught that both the power of God and the righteousness of the saints are necessary to bind Satan:
We talk about Satan's being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him. The Lord will not bind him and take his power from the earth while there are men and women willing to be governed by him. That is contrary to the plan of salvation. To deprive men of their agency is contrary to the purposes of our God. . . .
Satan only gains power over man through man's exercise of his own agency; and when Satan shall be bound, as the Lord says he will be for a thousand years, one of the great powers that will help bring this to pass will be man's agency. The Lord has never forced men against their will to obey him. He never will do so. If Satan, therefore, has power with man, it is because man yields to his influence. . . .
The time is not far distant when great judgments will be poured out upon the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Every prophet who has looked forward to our day has seen and predicted that the wicked would be destroyed. Their destruction means the destruction of Satan's power [including the literal destruction of the wicked]. The righteous will be left, and because of their righteousness the Lord will have mercy upon them; they, exercising their agency in the right direction, will bring down his blessings upon them to such an extent that Satan will be bound (Gospel Truth, 1:86-87).
Joseph Smith Taught: "Christ and the resurrected saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it" (Joseph Fielding Smith, TPJS, 268).
27 And now behold, I, Nephi, say unto you that all these things must come according to the flesh.
verse 27 "according to the flesh" All these prophecies are not merely figurative. Rather their fulfillment will be literal-"according to the flesh."
28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.
verse 28 This verse raises an interesting idea. It suggests that the concept of salvation, actually exaltation, is somehow not only applicable to individuals, but under certain circumstances it might be more broadly applicable-even to whole nations. Perhaps the ambiance created by some righteous nations is generally conducive to exaltation, though surely each individual must earn his own salvation.
29 And now I, Nephi, make an end; for I durst not speak further as yet concerning these things.
30 Wherefore, my brethren, I would that ye should consider that the things which have been written upon the plates of brass are true; and they testify that a man must be obedient to the commandments of God.
31 Wherefore, ye need not suppose that I and my father are the only ones that have testified, and also taught them. Wherefore, if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.